The Catholic Counter-Reformation in the 21st Century
HE IS RISEN !
N° 139 – May 2014
Director : Brother Bruno Bonnet‑Eymard
SUNDAY, APRIL 27, 2014, IN PARIS
THE SAINT WHOM GOD HAS GIVEN TO US
A conference by Brother Bruno of Jesus-Mary.
WE can read in Le Figaro littéraire, of March 13, 2014 : “ Must Pascal be canonised ? ” Why not ? The hundreds of canonisations celebrated by John Paul II (482 canonisations ! for 296 since the sixteen century) in defiance of all the rules for discernment established by Pope Sixtus V, have transformed this event into a ‘ formality ’ divested of all supernatural signification. Yet, I would be surprised that under Pope Francis, from the Society of Jesus, who has explicitly attacked ‘ Jansenism ’ several times, the canonisation of Pascal will come about !
On the other hand, the canonisation of John XXIII and John Paul II is taking place today in Rome according to the will of emeritus Pope Benedict XVI. With all the assurance of my Catholic Faith, the profession of which is confirmed today by Pope Francis’ daily teaching, I affirm without trembling that the ‘ canonisation ’ of John Paul II marks the apotheosis of the apostasy prophesised by St. Pius X at the beginning of his pontificate. This apostasy, denounced fifty years later by the late Fr. de Nantes in his books of accusation which, to date, have remained unanswered, was predicted two thousand years ago by St. Paul as the “ revelation ” of the Antichrist, “ the lawless one, the one doomed to perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god and object of worship, so as to seat himself in the temple of God [to be raised to the altars !], claiming that he is a god. ” (2 Th 2 :3-4; cf. ‘ The Inconceivable Canonisation of John Paul II ’ in He is risen, nos. 137, 138)
The remedy for this idolatry, however, is the accession of Pope Francis. He is ‘ the saint whom God has given to us, ’ a new St. Francis who is true to his model of the thirteen century in every respect. To be convinced of this, it is necessary and it suffices to see the impressive photos of his modern “ kiss to the leper ” that he gave to a patient suffering from neurofibromatosis .
This unfortunate invalid is the figure of the present state of humanity, of ‘ the man ’ to whom John Paul II rendered a cult ! Pope Francis embraced him to have mercy on him, to confer on him ‘ the anointing ’ of which he is the minister, to cure him and bring him back to life. No visible miracle took place, the man, however, clearly recognised that a new life had begun for him. His aunt said : “ He has felt important ever since the Pope embraced him. ”
It would be better to say that he has felt loved, and all of us along with him. This is the great newness of this pontificate as well as the source of our joy.
Everyone is holding forth on the “ popularity ” of Pope Francis, on his “ honeymoon period ” that many politicians may well envy him, but it will not last for ever, etc. This gross misdiagnosis is tantamount to ignoring ‘ the anointing ’ that exerts its attraction on souls, on the sensus fidei. This anointing is precisely the privilege of the poor, the sick and the disabled who seek to touch Jesus, like the woman in the Gospel who suffered from haemorrhages : “ If only I can touch His cloak, I shall be cured. ” (Mt 9 :20-22)
THE REMEDY FOR THE SIN OF IDOLATRY.
Of what does Jesus cure us ? He cures us of idolatry, as the Pope stated during his pilgrimage to Assisi, on October 4, 2013. There, he manifested his keen kinship of spirit with the Poverello when he went to the “ Room of Renunciation, ” which is called so because young Francis of Assisi stripped himself of his clothes in this room in order to follow Christ. Pope Francis invited every Christian and the entire Church to strip himself of worldliness :
“ We must all follow the path of Jesus, Who Himself took the road of renunciation. He chose to be humiliated even to the Cross. If we want to be Christians, there is no other way.
“ Can we not make Christianity a little more human – they say – without the cross, without Jesus, without renunciation ? ”
“ No ! In this way we would become like Christians in a pastry shop, saying : what beautiful cakes, what beautiful sweets ! Truly beautiful, but not really Christians ! Someone could ask : ‘ Of what must the Church divest herself ? ’ Today she must strip herself of a very grave danger that threatens every person in the Church, everyone : the danger of worldliness. The Christian cannot coexist with the spirit of the world, with the worldliness that leads us to vanity, to arrogance, to pride. This is an idol, it is not God. It is an idol ! Idolatry is the gravest of sins !
“ We all must strip ourselves of this worldliness : the spirit opposing the Spirit of the Beatitudes, the spirit opposing the Spirit of Jesus. ”
Nevertheless, since Pope John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul II and Benedict XVI, whose reigns were marked with “ openness ” to this spirit of worldliness, we are not ready to follow this Pope who wears neither a gold pectoral cross, a mozetta, nor red-leather shoes, who is “ striped of worldliness. ”
Some people talk of “ desacralisation. ”
Here is what Pope Francis answers :
“ The Gospel is the Gospel ! God is one ! Jesus made Himself a servant for our sake and the spirit of the world has nothing to do with this. Today I am here with you, ” the Pope said to the people assisted by Caritas. They are the poor, the unemployed and immigrants who have nothing in common with the “ leaders of religions ” gathered around John Paul II on October 27, 1986, in this same locality of Assisi. The latter, however, did not, in fact, go to the “ Room of Renunciation ” ! Pope Francis revealed this when he said : “ My Brother Bishop said that this is the first time in 800 years that a Pope has come here. ” Thus, this “ Room of Renunciation ” was not on the programme of John Paul II in 1986… He was of another spirit, the very one that Pope Francis denounces when he went on to say :
“ It is unthinkable that a Christian – a true Christian – whether a priest, a sister, a bishop, a cardinal or a Pope, would want to go down this path of worldiness, which is a homicidal attitude. Spiritual worldliness kills ! It kills the soul ! It kills the person ! It kills the Church !
“ When Francis, here, made the gesture of divesting himself he was a young boy, he did not have the strength for this. It was the strength of God that impelled him to do this […].
“ Today, here, let us ask for grace for all Christians. May the Lord give to all of us the courage to strip ourselves of the spirit of the world, not of 20 lire, but the spirit of the world, which is the leprosy, the cancer of society ! It is the cancer of God’s revelation ! ”
In order to measure the new feature of this predication of the Jesuit named Francis, we must remember that of the Dominican, named Congar, who said that the increasing devotion to the Blessed Virgin was the cancer of the Church ! He had this blasphemy accepted by the Council Fathers precisely in the name of the “ openness to the world ” ! Thus, we should not be surprised at seeing that this ‘ cancer ’ has been destroying the Church since the Second Vatican Council. The latter has substituted the cult of man, which is idolatry, for the worship of God, which, since the revelations of Fatima, has entailed the devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
THE GAZE OF JESUS.
In the homily that he then delivered on Saint Peter’s Square, Pope Francis wished “ Peace and all good to each and every one of you ! ” and invited us to “ let Jesus look at us ” as St. Francis who “ experienced this in a special way in the Church of San Damiano, as he prayed before the cross which I too will have an opportunity to venerate. On that cross, Jesus is depicted not as dead, but alive ! Blood is flowing from His wounded hands, feet and side, but that blood speaks of life. Jesus’ eyes are not closed but open, wide open : He looks at us in a way that touches our hearts. ”
Of what does this gaze speak to us ? It speaks to us about “ a death which is life, a death which gives life, for it speaks to us of love. When we let the crucified Jesus gaze upon us, we are re-created, we become ‘ a new creation ’. ”
When listening Pope Francis, we continually discern the influence of St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus, his great friend ; here, it is striking :
“ How unspeakable is the call of our Bridegroom ! ” She wrote to her sister Céline, on July 7, 1894. “ Now then ! We no longer even dared to look at each other because we thought we were lacklustre and without finery, yet Jesus calls us. He wants to consider us at leisure. He, however, is not alone ; along with Him, the two other Persons of the Holy Trinity come to take possession of our soul […]. What felicity to think that the good God, the whole Trinity looks at us, that the Trinity is in us and takes delight in considering us ! ”
Our Father, Georges Nantes, also a disciple of St. Thérèse, did not cease to ponder on this gaze :
“ It is through His gaze that Jesus saved the world ; it was such an appealing gaze, a gaze that bore the gleam of the Divinity. I do not know what was special about this gaze, what is certain, however, is that if you do not think about the gaze of Jesus, you read the Gospel blindly. The gazes of Jesus to the first disciples were Heart to heart gazes… ” (Georges de Nantes, S 134, Tenderness and devotion, Community retreat, 1998, 9th conference)
To what does the gaze of Christ invite and commit us ? It commits us to begin to “ move ” in three phases, three movements, which Pope Francis stated on March 14, when addressing the Cardinals who had elected him the previous day : “ ‘ Oh House of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the Lord. ’ ( Is 2 :5 ) This is the first thing that God said to Abraham :‘ Walk in My presence and live blamelessly ’. To journey : our life is a journey, and when we stop moving, things go wrong. Always journeying, in the presence of the Lord, in the light of the Lord, seeking to live with the blamelessness that God asked of Abraham in His promise. ”
The “ second movement in our lives ” consists in “ building the Church, the Bride of Christ, on the cornerstone that is the Lord Himself. ”
Finally, “ we can walk as much as we want, we can build many things, but if we do not profess Jesus Christ, things go wrong. We may become a charitable NGO, but not the Church, the Bride of the Lord.
“ When we are not walking, we stop moving. When we are not building on the stones, what happens ? The same thing that happens to children on the beach when they build sandcastles : everything is swept away, there is no solidity. When we do not profess Jesus Christ, the saying of Léon Bloy comes to mind : ‘ He who does not pray to the Lord prays to the Devil. ’ When we do not profess Jesus Christ, we profess the worldliness of the Devil, a demonic worldliness. ”
Léon Bloy did nothing but summarise the thought of the Fathers of the Church, according to which “ the gods of the heathen, i.e. of ‘ other religions ’ are devils ” (Ps 96 :5).
Confessare, caminare, ædificare. That is the charter of this pontificate and the secret of Pope Francis’ holiness and of the heroic character of his daily practice of all the virtues, especially the theological virtues of faith, hope and charity.
I. CONFESSARE : TO CONFESS THE CATHOLIC FAITH
“ To confess ” one’s sins, first. His first Angelus, on Sunday, March 17, consisted in exhorting us to do so. He commented on the Gospel of the ‘ fifth Sunday of Lent ’, in which Jesus sends the adulterous woman away forgiven : “ ‘ Neither do I condemn you ; go, and sin no more ! ’ Brothers and Sisters, God’s face is the face of a merciful Father Who is always patient. ” Pope Francis himself reflects this patience of God so perfectly that people, heeding his words, are beginning to go to confession again. He himself sets the good example ! It suffices to see him kneeling in the confessional to make you feel obliged to do likewise without delay, unless you are someone who believes he is sinless, like the Pharisees in the Gospel !
The word “ to confess, ” however, has another meaning, namely, when forgiven the sinner “ confesses ” his faith.
FAITH : IT IS SMALL, BUT STRONG, THROUGH PRAYERS.
On his return from Assisi, at the Angelus of Sunday, October 6, on the feast of St. Bruno, the Pope commented on the passage of the Gospel according to St. Luke, in which “ the Apostles said to the Lord, ‘ Increase our faith ! ’ ” (Lk 17 :5).
“ How does the Lord answer us ? He responds : ‘ If you had faith as a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this sycamore tree,Be rooted up, and be planted in the sea, and it would obey you ’ (v. 6). A mustard seed is tiny, yet Jesus says that faith this size, small but true and sincere, suffices to achieve what is humanly impossible, unthinkable. And it is true !
Pope Francis himself has proved it since his accession !
“ We all know people who are simple, humble, but whose faith is so strong it can move mountains ! Let us think, for example, of some mothers and fathers who face very difficult situations ; or of some sick, and even gravely ill, people who transmit serenity to those who come to visit them. These people, because of their faith, do not boast about what they do, rather, as Jesus asks in the Gospel, they say : ‘ We are unworthy servants ; we have only done what was our duty. ’ (Lk 17 :10). How many people among us have such strong, humble faith, and what good they do ! ”
The first to have such faith is you, Most Holy Father !
Here are words that atone for John Paul II’s scandalous ‘ acts of repentance ! ’
“ In this month of October, that is dedicated in a special way to missions, let us bear in mind the many missionaries, men and women, who in order to bring the Gospel have overcome obstacles of every kind, they have truly given their lives. As St. Paul says to Timothy : ‘ Do not be ashamed then of testifying to our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but take your share of suffering for the Gospel in the power of God. ’ (2 Tm 1 :8).
“ This, however, is for us all ; each one of us in his own daily lives can testify to Christ by the power of God, the power of faith. The faith we have is miniscule, but it is strong ! With this power to testify to Jesus Christ, to be Christians with our life, with our witness ! ”
The Pope says : “ with our witness , ” and not with the chattering of the ‘ the apostolate of the milieu by the milieu, ’ according to the principle of Catholic Action !
“ And how do we draw from this strength ? We draw it from God in prayer. Prayer is the breath of faith : in a relationship of trust, in a relationship of love, dialogue cannot be left out, and prayer is the dialogue of the soul with God.
“ October is also the month of the Rosary. The Rosary is a school of prayer, the Rosary is a school of faith ! ”
I BELIEVE IN THE CHURCH
In fact, the Rosary begins with the recitation of the Creed. In his general audiences, the Pope finished explaining it until its last article : “ I believe in eternal life, ” on December 11.
One day, La Repubblica hit the headlines : its founder and former director published an interview in which Pope Francis said that God is not Catholic ! Fr. Lombardi issued a muddled statement. The journalist, Scalfari, admitted that he had written his text from memory but that the Pope had really uttered these words… or something of the sort !
So what did the Pope say exactly ?
One day, when preaching the Exercises of St. Ignatius, Fr. de Nantes himself said concerning the Catholic Church :
“ We grow up in her arms, we are brought up by her, educated by her, and this is the fundamental difference between Protestantism, execrable Protestantism, and the Catholic Church ; I do not say Catholicism, which would make the Catholic Church a system. Rather I call the Church, our Mother. ” (Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, 1977, instructions to retreatants)
It is a short step from making our Father say that he is not Catholic…
Pope Francis explains :
“ The Church is our mother. She gives us the life of faith in Baptism : that is the moment in which she gives birth to us as children of God, the moment she gives us the life of God ; she engenders us as a mother would. If you go to the Baptistery of St. John Lateran, beside the Pope’s Cathedral, inside it there is an inscription in Latin which reads more or less :
“ ‘‘ Here is born a people of divine lineage, generated by the Holy Spirit Who makes these waters lifegiving ; Mother Church gives birth to her children within these waves. ’
“ How beautiful it is !
“ ‘ This makes us understand something important : our belonging to the Church is not an exterior or formal fact, it is not filling out a form they give us ; it is an interior and vital act ; one does not belong to the Church as one belongs to a society, to a party or to any other organisation. The bond is vital, like the bond you have with your mother, because, as St. Augustine says, ‘ the Church is truly the mother of Christians. ’ ” (September 11, 2013)
Thus, like a mother, she “ is also able to ask and knock at every door, without calculation ; she does so out of love. I think of how mothers can also and especially knock at the door of God’s heart ! Mothers say so many prayers for their children, especially for the weaker ones, for those in the greatest need. ” (September 18, 2013)
This is actually the prayer that was taught by Our Lady of Fatima, on July 13, 1917 :
“ O my Jesus, forgive us our sins ! Save us from the fires of Hell ! Lead all souls to Heaven, especially those most in need of Thy mercy. ”
“ I BELIEVE IN THE ONE CHURCH. ”
At the audience of September 25, to which more than 80 000 people flocked, Pope Francis explained :
“ Wherever we go, even to the smallest parish in the most remote corner of this earth, there is the one Church. We are at home, we are in the family, we are among brothers and sisters. This is a great gift of God ! The Church is one for us all. ”
One Church, one baptism, one faith, this is the work of the Holy Spirit :
“ Our unity is not primarily a fruit of our own consensus or of democracy in the Church, or of our effort to get along with each other ; rather, it comes from the One Who creates unity in diversity, because the Holy Spirit is harmony and always creates harmony in the Church. ”
We can say that the entire effort of our Holy Father Pope Francis aims at restoring this harmony that still prevailed in the Church on the eve of the Council.
“ I BELIEVE IN THE HOLY CHURCH. ”
On October 2, before going on pilgrimage to Assisi, the Pope confirmed our faith in the holiness of the Church :
“ This is a characteristic that has been present from the beginning in the consciousness of early Christians, who were simply called ‘ the holy people ’ (cf. Ac 9 :13, 32, 41 ; Rm 8 :27; 1 Co 6 :1), because they were certain that it is the action of God, the Holy Spirit that sanctifies the Church. ”
He himself, the saint whom God has given to us is living proof of this.
“ The Church is holy because Jesus Christ, the Holy One of God (cf. Mk 1 :24), is indissolubly united to her (cf. Mt 28 :20) ; She is holy because she is guided by the Holy Spirit Who purifies, transforms, renews. She is not holy by our own merits, but because God makes her holy, she is the fruit of the Holy Spirit and of His gifts. It is not we who make her holy. It is God, the Holy Spirit, Who in His love makes the Church holy. ”
For this reason, “ the Church, that is holy, does not reject sinners ; she does not reject us all ; she does not reject us because she calls everyone, welcomes us, is open even to those furthest from her, she calls everyone to allow us to be enfolded by the mercy, the tenderness and the forgiveness of the Father, Who offers everyone the possibility of meeting Him, of journeying toward sanctity. ‘ Well ! Father, I am a sinner, I have tremendous sins, how can I possibly feel part of the Church ? ’ Dear brother, dear sister, this is exactly what the Lord wants, that you say to Him : ‘ Lord, here I am, with my sins. ’ Is one of you here without sin ? Anyone ? No one, not one of us. We all carry our sins with us. The Lord, however, wants to hear us say to Him : ‘ Forgive me, help me to walk, change my heart ! ’ The Lord can change your heart. ”
How is it possible to resist such an appeal from our most dear Heavenly Father, of Whom this Pope is the herald ?
“ He is like the Father in the Gospel parable. You may be like the son who left home, who sank to the depths, farthest from God. When you have the strength to say : ‘ I want to come home, ’ you will find the door open. God will come to meet you because He is always waiting for you, God is always waiting for you, God embraces you, kisses you and celebrates. That is how the Lord is, that is how the tenderness of our Heavenly Father is. ”
THE HOME OF HARMONY.
On his return from the pilgrimage to Assisi, Pope Francis came back once again to the subject of the catholicity of the Church. You would think that he wants to make us forget the sacrilegious gathering of October 27, 1986, in Assisi, to which he did not make the slightest allusion in his numerous speeches delivered on that day !
“ The Church is catholic, because she is the ‘ home of harmony ’ where unity and diversity know how to merge. We are all different, varied, each of us with his own special qualities. This is the beauty of the Church : everyone brings his own gift, which God has given him, for the sake of enriching others. This excludes gossip. If there is gossip, there is no harmony but rather conflict. This is not the Church. ”
One day, at St. Martha’s Chapel, he indicated the way to put a stop to gossip :
“ ‘ Have you seen what he has done ? ’
– ‘ I’ve enough with what I’ve done myself… I don’t want to meddle in this ! ’ ”
“ There is diversity that does not enter into conflict and opposition. It is a variety that allows the Holy Spirit to blend it into harmony. He is the true ‘ Maestro. ’
“ Let us think about the image of a symphony, which implies various instruments playing together. Each one preserves its own unmistakable timbre and the sounds characteristic of each blend together around a common theme. The timbre of each individual instrument is never eliminated ; indeed, the uniqueness of each is greatly enhanced ! ” Thus “ the Church is like a great orchestra in which there is great variety. ”
On the eve of the Council, this was still the case :
“ The Church ! ” our Father wrote in the Letter to My Friends no 134, of March 19, 1963 : “ As soon as we mention her, as soon as we come together to sing God’s praises, we experience the joy of a pure fraternity […]. Her motherhood allows us to commune with her in the depths of our being and, forming but one heart and one soul, to feel ourselves incorporated in this one selfsame Body of which Jesus is the Head and the Holy Spirit the Life. Thus we all vibrate in unison, with an ineffable harmony, under the gentle touch of this divine August Person. Such is Charity, a love that is spiritual and perfect. ”
“ I BELIEVE IN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH. ”
“ First of all : what does ‘ Catholic ’ mean ? It comes from the Greek ‘ kath’olon ’ which means ‘ according to the whole, ’ the totality because she is the space, the home in which the Faith is proclaimed to us in its entirety, in which the salvation brought to us by Christ is offered to everyone.
“ A second meaning : the Church is ‘ Catholic ’ because she is universal, she is spread abroad through every part of the world and she proclaims the Gospel to every man and to every woman. The Church is not a group of elite ; she does not only concern the few. The Church has no limits ; she is sent to the totality of people, to the totality of the human race. The one Church is present even in her smallest parts. Everyone can say : in my parish the Catholic Church is present, since it too is part of the universal Church, since it too contains the fullness of Christ’s gifts : the Faith, the sacraments, the [ ordained ] ministry ; it is in communion with the bishop, with the Pope and it is open to everyone without distinction. ” (October 9, 2013)
“ I BELIEVE IN THE APOSTOLOLIC CHURCH. ”
“ I do not know if you have ever reflected on the meaning of the expression ‘ the Church is apostolic, ’ ” that is to say she is founded on the preaching and the prayer of the Apostles, on the authority that was given to them by Christ Himself.
St Paul compares Christians to “ living stones that form an edifice that is the Church, and this edifice is founded on the Apostles, like columns, and the cornerstone that carries it all is Jesus Himself.
“ Without Jesus the Church cannot exist ! Jesus is the foundation of the Church, the foundation ! The Apostles lived with Jesus, they listened to His words, they shared His life, above all they were witnesses of His Death and Resurrection. Our faith, the Church that Christ willed, is not based on an idea, it is not based on a philosophy, it is based on Christ Himself. The Church is like a plant that over the long centuries has grown, has developed, has borne fruit, yet her roots are planted firmly in Him and that fundamental experience of Christ which the Apostles had, chosen and sent out by Jesus, reaching all the way to us. From this little plant to our day : this is how the Church has spread everywhere in the world. ”
Pope Francis also compares the Catholic Church to “ a river coursing through history, developing, irrigating ; but running water always comes from a source, and the source is Christ Himself : He is the Risen One, He is the Living One, and His words never pass away, for He does not pass, He is alive, He is among us today, He hears us and we speak to Him and He listens, He is in our hearts. Jesus is with us today ! This is the beauty of the Church : the presence of Jesus Christ among us. ”
In 1963, after the first session of a Council that claimed to reform the Church, Georges de Nantes, our Father, wrote :
“ More than with any other society, we find the Church to be firstly and almost uniquely the work of one Man and of one Man alone. That still remains true even after twenty centuries.
“ The Church is almost nothing else except the repercussion in time and space of the Gospel. The Church’s movement is to this day, for those who know her well, only the effect of that initial impulse. The bones and nerves of this flesh, if one may so put it, are nothing other than the acts, the words, and the whole conduct of Jesus among men ; they alone give to the Church her firmness, her strength, her influence both within and without. All the rest is just flesh and blood, nothing but human work allied to the strength of God, but nothing compared to this divine mission as lived among men.
“ If the Church were to forget this fact for one moment and to betray the Jesus of history, she would be no more than a lifeless, disjointed corpse. If one of us were to turn his gaze away from it and toward false gods or the false messiahs of our times, there would be nothing left of his faith but an empty worthless envelope. ” (Letter to My Friends no 136)
That was in 1963. Subsequent events confirmed the truth of this warning. Now, however, after fifty years of aberrations, “ the Church continues in history the mission that Jesus entrusted to the Apostles, ” through the ministry of Pope Francis :
“ ‘ Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you ; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age. ’ (Mt 28 :19-20)
“ This is what Jesus told us to do ! ” Pope Francis said, making his own, as it were, yet with his power as Vicar of Christ, St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus’ infinite desires :
“ I would want to preach the Gospel on all the five continents simultaneously and even on the most remote isles. I would want to be a missionary not for a few years only but from the beginning of creation until the consummation of the ages. ”
“ I insist on this missionary aspect, ” the Pope said,“ because Christ invites all to ‘ go out ’ and encounter others, He sends us, He asks us to move in order to spread the joy of the Gospel !
“ Once again let us ask ourselves : are we missionaries by our words, and especially by our Christian life, by our witness, or are we Christians closed in our hearts and in our churches ? Are we sacristy Christians, Christians in name only, who live like pagans ? We must ask ourselves these questions, which are not a rebuke. I ask myself as well : What kind of Christian am I ? Is my witness true ?
“ The Church’s roots are in the teaching of the Apostles, the authentic witnesses of Christ, but she looks to the future, she has the firm consciousness of being sent – sent by Jesus – of being missionary, bearing the Name of Jesus by her prayer, proclaiming it and testifying to it.
“ Then, let us rediscover today all the beauty and responsibility of being the Church apostolic ! Remember this : the Church is apostolic because we pray – our first duty – and because we proclaim the Gospel by our life and by our words. ” (October 16, 2013) We proclaim it first and foremost by our life, and by employing words that are in harmony with the Holy Rosary, our ‘ school of prayer, ’ whereby Mary becomes our model. Ave Maria !
“ MARY AS A MODEL ”
Pope Francis’ devotion to the Blessed Virgin is not affected. It stems from the fact that he sets Her at “ the centre, ” with Christ, Her Son. At the beginning of solemn High Masses, after having embraced the altar that personifies Him, he incenses jointly Her and Him. He does not do this successively but concurrently : he leaves the altar before having gone completely around it in order to go and incense the statue of Mary ; then he returns to the altar and finishes incensing it.
In Brazil, he blessed the crowd with the statue of Our Lady of Aparecida as he would have done with the Blessed Sacrament.
On January 1, 2014, the Pope entrusted the new year to Mary, the Salvation of the Roman people ( Salus populi romani, ) in the Basilica of Saint Mary Major. He spent about twenty minutes in prayer before the icon, in the Pauline chapel, after having placed a bouquet of white roses on the altar. The doors of the basilica were left open during that time ; when he left the basilica, a group of pilgrims cried out : “ Pope Francis, we are Argentines ! ”
– “ So am I ! ” the Pope answered.
During the homily of the Mass celebrated at St. Peter’s, he recalled “ that great moment in the history of the ancient Church, the Council of Ephesus (431,) in which the divine motherhood of the Virgin Mary was authoritatively defined. ”
Then, he had the ‘ demonstration ’ held by the people of Ephesus ‘ mimed, ’ first by the assembly in the basilica, then by the crowd gathered on St. Peter’s Square for the Angelus :
“ It is the sensus fidei of the holy People of God which, in its unity, never errs. Let us then together invoke Her, and I invite you to invoke Her three times, following the example of those brothers and sisters of Ephesus : ‘ Mother of God ! Mother of God ! Mother of God ! ’ ”
Our Father, Georges de Nantes, used to tell us that this “ absolutely wonderful title of Mater Dei, Mother of God, is at the centre of the Ave Maria like an arch in midair supporting the triple supplication of its second part :‘ Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us poor sinners, now and at the hour of our death.’ ” (Sermon of August 14, 1999)
A MODEL OF FAITH AND HOPE.
“ Mary’s faith is the fulfilment of Israel’s faith, the whole journey, the whole path of that people awaiting redemption is contained in Her. At the Annunciation, She receives new light : it is concentrated on Jesus, the Son of God, Who from Her took flesh and in Whom all the promises of salvation history are fulfilled.
“ It is in this sense that She is the model of the Church’s faith, which has Christ, the incarnation of God’s infinite love, as its centre.
“ How did Mary live this faith ? She lived it out in the simplicity of the thousand daily tasks and worries of every mother, such as providing food, clothing, caring for the house.
“ Mary’s ‘ yes, ’ already perfect from the start, grew until the hour of the Cross. ”
In the evening of Good Friday, She alone kept faith in the Resurrection that Jesus had nevertheless announced on several occasions. Even St. John no longer believed in it. He would have to discover the empty tomb…, which, in fact, was not ‘ empty : ’
“ The other disciple [ St John himself ], running faster than Peter, reached the tomb first ; he bent down and saw the linen cloths lying on the ground, but did not go in. Simon Peter, following him, also came up, went into the tomb, and he saw the linen cloths lying on the ground, and also the Cloth that had been over His Head ; this was not with the linen cloths but rolled up in a place by Itself. Then the other disciple who had reached the tomb first also went in ; he saw and he believed. ” (Jn 20 : 3-8)
A MODEL OF CHARITY : THE VISITATION.
“ In visiting Her cousin Elizabeth, the Virgin Mary brought Jesus, Who was already alive in Her womb. Bringing Jesus into that house meant bringing joy, the fullness of joy, the joy which comes from Jesus and from the Holy Spirit.
“ In this, the Church is like Mary. The Church is not an NGO. The Church is sent to bring Christ and His Gospel to all.
“ If, as a hypothesis, the Church were not to bring Jesus, she would be a dead Church. The Church must bring Jesus, the love of Jesus, the charity of Jesus. ”
Here is the application :
“ What about us ? Are we children of Mary ? ? What kind of love do we bring to others ? Is it the love of Jesus that shares, that forgives, that accompanies, or is it a watered-down love, like wine so diluted that it seems like water ? Is it a strong love, or a love so weak that it follows the emotions, that it seeks a return, an interested love ?
“ What are the relationships like in our parishes, in our communities ? Do we treat each other like brothers and sisters ? Or do we judge one another, do we speak evil of one another, do we just tend our own vegetable patch ? Or do we care for one another ? These are the questions of charity ! ”
THE HEART OF MARY, A MODEL OF UNION WITH CHRIST.
“ The life of the Holy Virgin was the life of a woman of Her people : Mary prayed, She worked, She went to the synagogue… Every action, however, was carried out in perfect union with Jesus. This union finds its culmination on Calvary : here Mary is united to the Son in the martyrdom of Her Heart and in the offering of His life to the Father for the salvation of humanity. Our Lady shared in the pain of the Son and accepted with Him the will of the Father, in that obedience that bears fruit, that grants the true victory over evil and death.
“ The reality Mary teaches us is very beautiful : to always be united with Jesus. We can ask ourselves : do we remember Jesus only when something goes wrong and we are in need, or is ours a constant relation, a deep friendship, even when it means following Him on the way of the Cross ? ” (October 23, 2013)
The way that will lead us there is the ‘ Heart of Mary :
“ Just as Her pain was intimate enough to pierce Her soul, so too Her joy was also intimate and deep, and the disciples were able to draw from it.
“ Having passed through the experience of the death and Resurrection of Her Son, seen in faith as the supreme expression of God’s love, Mary’s Heart became a font of peace, consolation, hope and mercy.
“ All of the prerogatives of our Mother derive from this, from Her participation Jesus’ Paschal Mystery. From Friday until Sunday morning She did not lose hope : we contemplated the sorrowful Mother but, at the same time, the Mother full of hope. She, who is the Mother of all of the disciples, the Mother of the Church, is the Mother of hope.
“ Let us ask Her, the silent witness of the death and Resurrection of Jesus, to introduce us into Paschal joy. ” (Regina Cæli of Easter Monday, April 21, 2014)
She was a “ silent witness ” because She had not been entrusted with the task of announcing this event to the Holy Women or the Apostles. Her “ silence ”, however, was more eloquent than everything else : the very fact that She did not go to the tomb with the Holy Women on Sunday morning not only proves that She ‘ believed ’ in the Resurrection but also that She had already seen Her risen Jesus appear to Her and enfold Her in His embrace. It is obvious !
On March 24, 2014, in his homily of the 7 o’clock Mass in St. Martha’s, Pope Francis pointed out that “ in Her Magnificat canticle, Mary does not say that She rejoices because God has looked upon Her virginity, Her goodness, Her gentleness, all Her virtues… no ! She rejoices because the Lord has looked upon the lowliness of His Handmaid, upon Her smallness, Her humility. That is what the Lord considers. ”
This a marvellous concurrence with the great thought of our Father according to whom “ it is the infinite power of God that applies to the contemplation of this Dove Who is entirely clothed in weakness, smallness, humility (…). It is like a mother who looks at her small child. The smaller the child is, the greater the mother is, the more the difference is moving. She is for Him this nothing, this emptiness – which is also the mark of Her gentleness and Her tenderness – that is so deeply formed in Her that she has deserved to be filled by the Beloved Who knocks at the door : ‘ Open to Me, My Beloved, My dove, My sister-bride ! ’ ” (Sermon of August 14, 1999)
I. CAMMINARE : TO WALK TO WHAT DESTINATION ? TO HEAVEN !
St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus, doctor of the Church, wrote to her “ cherished Céline, ‘ one day, we will go to Heaven, forever, and there will no longer be any day or night as there is on this earth… Oh, what joy ! Let usmarch peacefully looking at Heaven, the only goal of our works. ’ ” (April 27, 1889)
Pope Francis wrote on November 1, 2013 :
“ The Feast of All Saints that we are celebrating today reminds us that the goal of our existence is not death, it is Paradise ! It is what the Apostle John wrote : ‘ It does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when He appears we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. ’ ” (1 Jn 3 :1-2).
In order to reach this goal, we have to follow the example of the Saints :
THE SERVICE OF OTHERS.
“ The Saints – who are the friends of God – assure us of this promise that does not disappoint. During their earthly existence they lived in profound communion with God. In the faces of the humblest and least of our brothers, the smallest and most despised brothers, they saw the face of God, and now they contemplate Him face to face in His glorious beauty.
“ The Saints are not supermen… ”
So, John Paul II is not a saint !
“ …nor were they born perfect. They are like us, like each one of us. They are people who, before reaching the glory of Heaven, lived normal lives with joys and sorrows, struggles and hopes. What changed their lives ? When they recognised God’s love, they followed it with all their heart without reserve or hypocrisy. They spent their lives serving others, they endured suffering and adversity without hatred and responded to evil with good, spreading joy and peace. ”
Our Father, Georges de Nantes, was a saint of this sort. It even seems that Pope Francis has heard about him. Last April 3, we were celebrating the ninetieth anniversary of the birth of Georges, Marie, Camille de Nantes, born on April 3, 1924 and baptised on the 5th. On April 4, in his homily of the 7 o’clock Mass in St. Martha’s, Pope Francis commented on the reading of both the passage from the Book of Wisdom on the persecution of the righteous by the impious, and from the Gospel of St. John relating Jesus’ controversies with the Jews of Jerusalem. The Pope explained their attitude. According to him, it consists in “ disqualifying the Lord, disqualifying the prophet in order to take away His authority. ”
Uttered by a great sports fan, this word would not be the least surprising had it not been applied specifically to Fr. de Nantes by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in a Notification of August 10, 1969. Fr. de Nantes who accused Popes Paul VI and John Paul II of heresy, schism and scandal never received any sanction other than this disqualification, which is not only devoid of canonical significance but lacked justification and led to no judgement. Thus it is null and void… and even would be on a sports ground, for want of motives. The referee did not state the grounds for the sanction !
Perhaps someone had just spoken of Georges de Nantes to Pope Francis ? The Holy Father, in fact, added :
“ Many thinkers in the Church were also persecuted. I’m thinking of someone now, at this moment, not far from us, a man of goodwill, a true prophet, who in his books [ of accusation ? ] reproached the Church for falling away from the path of the Lord. ”
If he thought of Fr. de Nantes, we understand that he did not give any name… The time has not yet come to open and to deal with this case. This Pope is assisted by the gift of Counsel.
The end of his homily of All Saints’ Day, however, applies literally to our Blessed Father :
“ This is the life of a Saint. Saints are people who for love of God did not put conditions on Him in their life ; they were not hypocrites ; they spent their lives at the service of others. They suffered much adversity but without hate. The Saints never hated. Understand this well : love is of God, then from whom does hatred come ? Hatred does not come from God but from the Devil ! And the Saints removed themselves from the Devil ; the Saints are men and women who have joy in their hearts and they spread it to others. Never hate but serve others, the most needy ; pray and live in joy. This is the way of holiness ! ”
THE IMITATION OF JESUS CHRIST.
“ Being holy is not a privilege for the few, as if someone had a large inheritance ; in Baptism we all have an inheritance to be able to become saints. Holiness is a vocation for everyone. Thus we are all called to walk on the path of holiness, and this path has a name and a face : the Face of Jesus Christ. He teaches us to become saints. In the Gospel He shows us the way, the way of the Beatitudes (cf. Mt 5 :1-12).
“ In fact, the Kingdom of Heaven is for those who do not place their security in material things but in love for God, for those who have a simple, humble heart that does not presume to be just and does not judge others, for those who know how to suffer with those who suffer and how to rejoice when others rejoice. They are not violent but merciful and strive to be instruments for reconciliation and peace. Saints, whether men or women, are instruments for reconciliation and peace ; they are always helping people to become reconciled and helping to bring about peace. Thus holiness is beautiful, it is a beautiful path ! ”
It is the path on which Pope Francis is leading us…
“ Today, through this feast, the Saints give us a message. They tell us : Trust in the Lord because the Lord does not disappoint ! He never disappoints, He is a good friend always at our side. Through their witness the Saints encourage us to not be afraid of going against the tide or of being misunderstood and mocked when we speak about Him and the Gospel ; by their life they show us that he who stays faithful to God and to His Word experiences the comfort of His love on this earth and then a ‘ hundredfold ’ in eternity.
“ This is what we hope for and ask of the Lord, for our deceased brothers and sisters. With her wisdom the Church has placed the Feast of All Saints and All Souls’ Day near each other. May our prayer of praise to God and veneration of the blessed spirits join with the prayer of suffrage for the souls of those who have preceded us in the passage from this world to eternal life.
“ Let us entrust our prayers to the intercession of Mary, Queen of All Saints. ”(Angelus, All Saints’ Day 2013)
THE COMBAT AGAINST THE DEVIL.
Her good help is all the more necessary because the present life is a combat against the Devil. From the first page of the Revelation, the Devil wages his fight against God, and the Bible finishes “ with the victory of God over the Devil. ”
Thus, it is a matter of “ not being naïve : ”
“ ‘ But Father, you are somewhat behind the times ! You are frightening us with all these things… ’
– ‘ No, it is not I but the Gospel ! They are not lies : it is the Word of the Lord ! ’ ”
It is also the message of Fatima ! The children saw Hell “ like a vast ocean of fire. Plunged in this fire we saw demons and the souls of the damned. The latter were like transparent burning embers, black or bronzed, having human form. They were floating in this fire, lifted up by the flames that issued from within themselves, along with clouds of smoke. They fell back on all sides, like sparks in huge fires, without weight or equilibrium, amid cries and groans of despair that were horrifying to hear and made us tremble with fright.
“ It must have been this sight that caused me to let out the cry that the people around me heard. The demons could be distinguished from the souls of the damned by their horrible and repellent likeness to frightening and unknown animals, but they were transparent, like burning black coals.
“ This vision lasted but an instant, thanks to our good Mother in Heaven Who, during the first apparition, had promised to take us to Heaven. Were it not for this, I believe we would have died of fear and terror. ”
From this comes the Pope’s invitation to “ take these things seriously, ” for Christ “ came to fight for the salvation ” of men and “ He won against the Devil. ” The Pope leaves us three criteria for “ discerning ” and choosing “ the Christian road when temptations surface : ”
The first criterion is the “ fight. ” Jesus came “ to liberate us from the slavery of the Devil. ”
“ It cannot be said that we exaggerate… There is a fight on which our salvation, our eternal salvation, depends. ” The souls of the poor sinners – whom we are, – are at stake in this fight.
Here is the second criterion :“ He who is not with Jesus is against Jesus. There are no attitudes in the middle ” and “ neither are there nuances. ”
“ Either you are with Me or against Me. ”
These are words of Jesus… and Mary ! Lucy, the seer of Fatima, did not cease repeating it :
“ The Devil is engaging in a decisive battle against the Virgin. A decisive battle is the final battle in which we will know which side is victorious and which is defeated. Hence, from now on we are either for God or for the Devil. There is no other possibility. ”
The third criterion is “ vigilance, ” for “ the Devil is cunning, he is never driven away forever ; [ only ] on the last day he will be turned out for good. ” The Pope does not cease encouraging us “ to be always on our guard, to be vigilant against the deceit, the seduction of the Devil. ”
Let us examine our conscience : “ Do I watch over myself, over my heart, my feelings, my thoughts ? Do I protect the work of grace ? Do I keep the presence of the Holy Spirit within me ? If you are not on your guard, he who is stronger than you will come along. ”
Thus it is a question of perseverance.
“ ‘ When an unclean spirit goes out of a person it roams through arid regions searching for rest but finds none. Then it says, I will return to my home from which I came. Upon returning, however, it finds it empty, swept clean, and put in order. Then it goes and brings back with itself seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they move in and dwell there ; and the last condition of that person is worse than the first. ’ ”
This warning of Jesus in the Gospel calls for“ vigilance ” against the strategy of the Devil, which the Pope presents :
“ ‘ You have become a Christian, make progress in your faith, I leave you in peace. When you have become accustomed, however, when you are no longer so vigilant and feel self-assured, I return. ’
“ Today, the Gospel begins with the Devil who is driven away and finishes with the Devil who returns. St. Peter said so : ‘ He islike a roaring lion that comes and goes within us. ’ Thus it is.
“ Please, let us not do business with the Devil ! He tries to return home and to take possession of us…
“ Do not relativise ; be vigilant ! And always with Jesus ! ” (homily of October 11, 2013)
And with Mary, Whom Pope Francis never separates from Jesus. Ave Maria !
“ I BELIEVE IN ETERNAL LIFE ”
CLOSING OF “ THE YEAR OF THE FAITH ”
“ Today I would like to begin the last series of catecheses on our profession of faith, by discussing the statement ‘ I believe in eternal life. ’ ” (December 11, 2013)
CONFIDENCE IN THE JUDGEMENT OF GOD.
“ In particular, I will reflect on the Last Judgement. We need not be afraid : let us listen to what the Word of God tells us. Concerning this, we read in the Gospel of Matthew : when Christ ‘ comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him…. Before Him will be gathered all the nations, and He will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and He will place the sheep at His right hand, but the goats at the left… And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life. ’ ” (Mt 25 :31-33, 46).
“ Whenever we think of Christ’s return and of His final judgement, which will manifest to its ultimate consequences the good that each person has done or failed to do during his earthly life, we seem to find ourselves before a mystery that towers above us, that we fail even to imagine. It is a mystery that almost instinctively arouses a sense of fear in us, and perhaps even one of trepidation. If, however, we reflect well on this reality, it cannot but expand the heart of a Christian and come to constitute a cause of consolation and of trust.
“ In this regard, the testimony of the first Christian communities resounds ever so evocatively. In fact, they usually accompanied the celebrations and prayers with the acclamation Maranatha, an expression composed of two Aramaic words which, according to how they are pronounced, may be understood as a supplication : ‘ Come, Lord !, ’ or as a certainty nourished by faith : ‘ Yes, the Lord is coming, the Lord is near. ’
“ The whole of Christian revelation culminates in this exclamation, at the conclusion of the marvellous contemplation which is offered to us by John in the Apocalypse (cf. 22 :20). ”
Let us quote this verse : “ The One Who gives this testimony [ Jesus ] says : ‘ Yes, I am coming soon. ’ Amen ! Come, Lord Jesus ! ” Jesus confirms that He is coming soon (cf. Ap 1 :3-7; 22 :7-12 et passim); His Yes responds to the appeal of the Church and the Amen of His children express their joyous faith and their desire :
“ In that case, it is the Church as bride who, on behalf of all humanity and as its first fruits, addresses herself to Christ her Bridegroom, looking forward to be enfolded in His embrace : Jesus’ embrace, which is the fullness of life and the fullness of love. This is how Jesus embraces us. ”
JESUS AND THE SAINTS ARE OUR ADVOCATES.
“ A second reason for confidence is offered to us by the observation that, at the moment of judgement, we will not be left alone.
“ In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus Himself foretells how, at the end of time, those who have followed Him will take their place in glory, and judge with Him (cf. Mt 19 :28). The Apostle Paul then, writing to the community of Corinth, states : ‘ Do you not know that the saints will judge the world ?… How much more, matters pertaining to this life ! ’ (1 Co 6 :2-3).
“ How beautiful it is to know that at that juncture, in addition to Christ, Our Paraclete, Our Advocate with the Father (cf. 1 Jn 2 :1), we will be able to count on the intercession and goodness of so many of our elder brothers and sisters who have gone before us on the journey of faith, who have offered their lives for us and who continue to love us ineffably ! The saints already live in the sight of God, in the splendour of His glory praying for us who still live on earth. What consolation this certainty arouses in our hearts !
“ The Church is truly a mother and, as a mother, she seeks her children’s good, especially of those who are furthest away and are afflicted, until she finds its fullness in the glorious Body of Christ with all its members. ”
In a sermon of October 8, 1995, our Father told us : “ It seems to me that the farther from the centre of the Church people are, the better the chances are that God will take pity on them and that they will go to Heaven. On the other hand, the closer people are to the Church, the more they profit from her, the more they have everything they need to be protected… If, despite this, their behaviour is scandalous, if they live in sin and flaunt the fact, there will no longer be any pity for these Pharisees of our time. ”
THE JUDGEMENT HAS ALREADY BEGUN.
“ A further suggestion is offered to us by the Gospel of John, where it explicitly states that ‘ God sent His Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not condemned ; He who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the Name of the only Son of God. ’ (Jn 3 :17-18).
“ This means, then, that this final judgement is already in progress, it begins now over the course of our lives. Thus judgement is pronounced at every moment of life, as it sums up our faith in the salvation that is present and active in Christ, or of our unbelief, whereby we close in upon ourselves. Yet if we close ourselves to the love of Jesus, we condemn ourselves.
“ Salvation is to open oneself to Jesus, it is He Who saves us. If we are sinners – and we all are – we ask Him for forgiveness and if we go to Him with the desire to be good, the Lord forgives us. For this, however, we must open ourselves to Jesus’ love, which is stronger than all else. Jesus’ love is great, Jesus’ love is merciful, Jesus’ love forgives ; but you have to open yourself and to open oneself means to repent, to accuse oneself of the things that are not good and which we have done. ”
Also on this chapter, Pope Francis is a disciple of St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus :
“ For those who love Him, and after each indelicacy, come to ask pardon by throwing themselves into His arms, Jesus trembles with joy [ there follows here the passage of the Gospel on the Prodigal Son ]. Ah ! My brother, how the goodness, the merciful love of Jesus, are so little known !…
“ It is true that to enjoy these riches we must be humble and recognise our nothingness, and this is what so many souls are not willing to do. Nevertheless, my little brother, that is not the way you behave, so the way of simple, loving confidence is just made to order for you. ” (Letter to Fr. Bellière of July 26, 1897)
“ We must not grow weary, then, of keeping watch over our thoughts and our attitudes, in order that we may be given even now a foretaste of the warmth and splendour of God’s Face – and this will be beautiful – which in Eternal Life we shall contemplate in all its fullness.
“ Forward, thinking of this judgement that begins now, that has already begun. Forward, doing so in such a way that our hearts open to Jesus and to His salvation ;
“ Forward without fear, for Jesus’ love is greater and if we ask forgiveness for our sins He will forgive us. This is what Jesus is like. Forward then with this certainly, which will bring us to the glory of Heaven ! ” (Catechesis of Wednesday 11, December 2013)
Edificare does not mean “ reformare, ” for “ venerable Brethren, St. Pius X used to say – we must repeat with the utmost energy in these times of social and intellectual anarchy when everyone takes it upon himself to act as a teacher and lawmaker – the City [ the Church ] cannot be built otherwise than as God has built it […].. It has only to be set up and restored ” after having undergone “ the unremitting attacks of unsavoury utopia, revolt, and impiety ” for fifty years (cf. Letter on the Sillon, of August 25, 1910)
Edificare means to rebuild by beginning with the religious life : priority is given to the consecrated life.
This life shall be consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
“ AWAITING THE RETURN OF THE LORD. ”
Consecrated people are “ men and women who can awaken the world ” (Meeting of the Pope with The Superiors General, on November 29, 2013, in the Vatican, for their 82nd General Assembly.)
They can awaken the world provided that they themselves are not asleep ! This is precisely our own vocation as Little Brothers and Little Sisters of the Sacred Heart founded by Fr. de Nantes… in the last century, in 1958, for the centenary of Fr. de Foucauld’s birth :
“ The brothers, few in number, will withdraw into hermitages, oases of Peace in the midst of the world, for the praise of the Glory of God. They will live poor there, in solitude and silence. Thus will they vigilantly await the return of the Lord that will not be long in coming. ” (First Article of the Rule of the Little Brothers and Little Sisters of the Sacred Heart.)
The call comes from Jesus :
“ Becoming a priest or a man or woman religious is not primarily our own decision. I do not trust that seminarian or that woman novice who says : ‘ I have chosen this path. ’ I do not like this ! It will not do ! Rather it is the response to a call and to a call of love. ”
Pope Francis was speaking from experience when he said, in the Regina Cæli of April 21, 2013 :
“ Behind and before every vocation to the priesthood or to the consecrated life there is always the strong and intense prayer of someone : a grandmother, a grandfather, a mother, a father, a community ” and “ the intercession of Mary Who is the Woman of the ‘ yes. ’ She learned to recognise Jesus’ voice from the time when She carried Him in Her womb. May Mary, our Mother, help us to know Jesus’ voice better and better and to follow it, so as to walk on the path of life ! ”
Our Father told us on the feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin, on November 21, 1989, just after events that nearly annihilated our community :
“ To espouse the sentiments of the Blessed Virgin means that I will be engulfed in Her Heart, I will throw myself into Her Immaculate Heart. What will I find in Her Heart ? I will find steel, a firmness of steel. I will no longer be inconstant because She will not change ; She said Yes to God, Yes at the Annunciation. She said Yes, first to the marriage with St. Joseph, She said Yes at the Annunciation, She said Yes even to Jesus being on the Cross, She said Yes at Pentecost to remaining among the Apostles ; She always said Yes and in Heaven, She says Yes.
“ It is the ‘ Ego promitto fidelitatem ’ that is asked of us today since we are able to do so ; She also said Yes to Love. ”
Now, “ this love of Christ and His friendship are not an illusion. Jesus on the Cross shows us how concrete they are. ” (June 30, 2013 to Youth of Lithuania.)
“ It is a love that has manifested its truthfulness through all the sufferings of this pierced Heart, crowned with thorns and surmounted by the Cross. This suffering calls for our gratitude, and perhaps also for our participation, compass sion and self-immolation. ”
Our love for Jesus urges us at the same time as it fills us with joy.
“ Caritas Christi urget nos, ” St. Paul said, and our Father applied it to our life : “ It is the love of Christ that impels us. It is of pressing importance to work in the kitchen, in the garden, in the printing house… which are all works that God wants us to fulfil. For we know through Jesus Christ Himself that the love of God is operative, effective ! ” (Georges de Nantes, July 3, 1994)
“ One washday, ” Sister Mary of the Trinity relates, “ I was going to the laundry at a leisurely pace, examining the flowers of the garden in passing. Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus was on her way there as well, yet she was walking at a brisk pace. She soon caught me up and told me while dragging me along after her :
“ ‘ Is that how nuns hurry when they have children to feed, and have to work in order to support them ? Let us hurry for if we dawdle, our children will starve ! ’ ” (Ordinary Process)
Pope Francis spoke likewise in the Angelus of July 7, 2013 : “ It is urgent ! There is no time to be lost in gossip… ” As a model, he gives us … the Blessed Virgin “ Who hastens, ” after the Annunciation in order to visit Her cousin Elizabeth and help her.
On Holy Thursday, for the Chrism Mass that he concelebrated with the priests, bishops and cardinals present in Rome, the Pope told them :
“ The Lord anointed us in Christ with the oil of gladness, and this anointing invites us to accept and appreciate this great gift : the gladness, the joy of being a priest. Priestly joy is a priceless treasure, not only for the priest himself but for the entire faithful people of God : that faithful people from which he is called to be anointed and which he, in turn, is sent to anoint.
“ Anointed with the oil of gladness so as to anoint others with the oil of gladness. Priestly joy has its source in the Father’s love, and the Lord wishes the joy of this Love to be ‘ ours ’ and to be ‘ complete ’ (Jn 15 :11). I like to reflect on joy by contemplating Our Lady, for Mary, the ‘ Mother of the living Gospel, is a wellspring of joy for God’s little ones ’ (Evangelii Gaudium, 288). I do not think it is an exaggeration to say that a priest is very little indeed : the incomparable grandeur of the gift granted us for the ministry sets us among the least of men. The priest is the poorest of men unless Jesus enriches him by His poverty, the most useless of servants unless Jesus calls him His friend, the most ignorant of men unless Jesus patiently teaches him as He did Peter, the frailest of Christians unless the Good Shepherd strengthens him in the midst of the flock. No one is more ‘ little ’ than a priest left to his own devices ; and so our prayer of protection against every snare of the Evil One is the prayer of our Mother : I am a priest because He has regarded my littleness (cf. Lk 1 :48). In that littleness we find our joy.
“ It is a ‘ guarded joy, ’ watched over by the flock itself but also guarded by three sisters who surround it, tend it and defend it : sister poverty, sister fidelity and sister obedience. ”
“ Priestly joy is a joy that is sister to fidelity. ”
On July 6, the Pope said to the seminarians, novices and young people ‘ on a vocational path : ’
“ You are now applauding, you are celebrating because it is the wedding time…. When the honeymoon is over, however, what happens ?
“ I heard a seminarian, a good seminarian, who said that he wanted to serve Christ for 10 years, and then he would think about starting a different life….
“ This is the culture of the temporary, and this is not possible with Jesus ! ”
Our Father spoke likewise in his retreat on The Three Ages of Religious Life :
“ Our Lord never lets it be thought that it is only for a time that He calls someone to sell all his goods, to distribute them to the poor and to follow Him. He does not say : ‘ Come on a training course ! ’ This is good for the time being ! ‘ Come for two years, then I will set you free ! Come experience life with Me ! ’ Christ’s call is always definitive. He knows nothing but definitive decisions. ”
Pope Francis added : “ I am not reproaching you, I reproach this culture of the temporary, which hits us all, since it does us no good : because it is very hard today to made a definitive decision. ”
Fr. de Nantes showed the same indulgence when he said : “ There will probably be many obstacles to overturn in your souls because you are conditioned by your milieu and our milieu is a rotten milieu. I clearly say that the aristocratic milieu, the middle-class milieu, the working-class milieu, the rural France milieu, all our milieus are corrupted by an indoctrination that has denationalised and dechristianised us.
“ It is not your fault, it is because in your schools, counterculture and systematic ignorance are employed with the aim of snatching from our people its soul. ” (Community Retreat, 1987)
It is fidelity, however, that is fecund :
“ Priestly joy is a joy which is sister to fidelity. Not primarily in the sense that we are all ‘ immaculate ’ ( would that by God’s grace we were ! ), for we are sinners, but in the sense of an ever renewed fidelity to the one Bride, to the Church. Here fruitfulness is key. The spiritual children whom the Lord gives each priest, the children he has baptised, the families he has blessed and helped on their way, the sick he has comforted, the young people he catechises and helps to grow, the poor he assists… all these are the ‘ Bride ’ whom he rejoices to treat as his supreme and only love and to whom he is constantly faithful. It is the living Church, with a first name and a last name, which the priest shepherds in his parish or in the mission entrusted to him. That mission brings him joy whenever he is faithful to it, whenever he does all that he has to do and lets go of everything that he has to let go of, as long as he stands firm amid the flock that the Lord has entrusted to him : ‘ Feed My sheep ’ (cf. Jn 21 :16,17).
That is why the Pope firmly affirms that“ it is impossible to imagine a priest or a sister who are not fertile : this is not Catholic ! This is not Catholic ! This is the beauty of consecration : it is joy, joy… ”
On July 6, when he arrived in the audience hall, where he was receiving seminarians, novices and young people ‘ on a vocational path, ’ the Pope had an elderly nun freed from the crowd and placed in the front row. He made a true declaration of love to her :
“ However I do not want to embarrass this good sister who was in front of the crowd barrier, poor thing, she was really squashed, but she had a happy face. It did me good to look at your face, sister ! You may have had many years of consecrated life, but you have beautiful eyes, you were smiling, you did not complain of being squashed… ”
Let us return to the Chrism Mass, to the three little sisters who stand surety for priestly joy. ”
“ The joy of priests is a joy that is sister to poverty. The priest is poor in terms of purely human joy. He has given up so much ! Because he is poor, he, who gives so much to others, has to seek his joy from the Lord and from God’s faithful people. He does not need to try to create it for himself. We know that our people are very generous in thanking priests for their slightest blessing and especially for the Sacraments.
“ Many people, in speaking of the crisis of priestly identity, fail to realise that identity presupposes belonging. There is no identity – and consequently joy of life – without an active and unwavering sense of belonging to God’s faithful people (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 268). The priest who tries to find his priestly identity by soul-searching and introspection may well encounter nothing more than ‘ exit ’ signs, signs that say : exit from yourself, exit to seek God in adoration, go out and give your people what was entrusted to you, for your people will make you feel and taste who you are, what your name is, what your identity is, and they will make you rejoice in that hundredfold which the Lord has promised to those who serve Him. Unless you ‘ exit ’ from yourself, the oil grows rancid and the anointing cannot be fruitful. Going out from ourselves presupposes self-denial ; it means poverty.
“ Priestly joy is a joy that is sister to obedience. ”
It is necessary to quote Jean-Marie Guénois, the best analyst of this pontificate for the past year. He wrote in Le Figaro of April 21 :
“ Even if he has a confirmed awareness of social issues that can be qualified as “ leftist ” on certain of his economic analyses, the Argentine Pope remains a strongly authoritative man. One must go back a very long way in time to find such authoritarianism, which is uncommon in his governance. On fundamental issues, his temperament is coupled with an extremely radical Christian and Catholic spirituality.
“ In short, even if Pope Francis appears to be ‘ revolutionary, ’ he is a powerful conservative and above all a high-powered missionary whom nothing can stop. ”
“ An obedience to the Church in the hierarchy that gives us, as it were, not simply the external framework for our obedience : the parish to which I am sent, my ministerial assignments, my particular work … but also union with God the Father, the source of all fatherhood. It is likewise an obedience to the Church in service : in availability and readiness to serve everyone, always and as best I can, following the example of ‘ Our Lady of Promptness ’ (cf. Lk 1 :39, meta spoudes), Who hastens to serve Elizabeth Her kinswoman and is concerned for the kitchen of Cana when the wine runs out.
“ The availability of her priests makes the Church a house with open doors, a refuge for sinners, a home for people living on the streets, a place of loving care for the sick, a camp for the young, a classroom for catechising children about to make their First Communion…
“ Wherever God’s people have desires or needs, there is the priest, who knows how to listen (ob-audire) and feels a loving mandate from Christ Who sends him to relieve that need with mercy or to encourage those good desires with resourceful charity. All who are called should know that genuine and complete joy does exist in this world : it is the joy of being taken from the people we love and then being sent back to them as dispensers of the gifts and counsels of Jesus, the one Good Shepherd Who, with deep compassion for all the little ones and the outcasts of this earth, wearied and oppressed like sheep without a shepherd, wants to associate many others to His ministry, so as Himself to remain with us and to work, in the person of His priests, for the good of His people. ”
“ To be joyful witnesses of the Gospel it is necessary to be authentic and consistent. ”
This excludes hypocrisy and obsequiousness !
“ I always say what St Francis of Assisi stated : Christ has sent us to proclaim the Gospel with words too, ” but not only with words ! They are not the main thing !
“ The sentence goes like this : ‘ Always proclaim the Gospel. And if necessary, with words. ’ ”
Fr de Foucauld said : “ I must preach the Gospel to every creature by the example of my life, I must see to it that my life is a faithful image of Our Lord’s, and thereby proclaim the Gospel from the roof tops, make the living Gospel seen by all those who see me, who live around me, in the place that God has chosen for me. ” (Fr. de Foucauld, Considerations on the Feasts of the Year, pp. 398-403)
It is the object of the last chapter of the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii gaudium, the joy of the Gospel : ‘ Spirit-filled evangelisers. ’
“ Jesus wants evangelisers who proclaim the good news not only with words, but above all by a life transfigured by God’s presence. ” (no. 259)
In other words, Jesus wants evangelisers modelled on Pope Francis himself…
“ How I long to find the right words to stir up enthusiasm for a new chapter of evangelisation full of fervour, joy, generosity, courage, boundless love and attraction ! ” (no. 261)
One might think we were listening to Fr. de Nantes exhorting us to prayer and work !
“ Spirit-filled evangelisers are evangelisers who pray and work. ”
First of all, they pray : “ Without prolonged moments of adoration, of prayerful encounter with the Word, of sincere conversation with the Lord, our work easily becomes meaningless ; we lose energy as a result of weariness and difficulties, and our fervour dies out. ” (no. 262)
He clearly said “ we. ” He repeated it on Holy Thursday, exhorting “ his priests, ” who are those of the whole world, to keep “ missionary joy, ” even “ in those gloomy moments when everything looks dark and a feeling of isolation takes hold of us, in those moments of listlessness and boredom which at times overcome us in our priestly life ( and which I too have experienced ). ”
Let us not say,“ then, that things are harder today ; they are simply different. Rather let us learn from the saints who have gone before us, who confronted the difficulties of their own day […] the reasons that can help us to imitate them today. ” (no. 263)
“ The primary reason is the love of Jesus ” that Pope Francis’ whole preaching and constant influence have made extraordinarily present among us over the last year.
Joy is born from shared love, “ from feeling accepted, understood and loved, and from accepting, from understanding and from loving, ” Pope Francis said, as though he had applied himself to studying the Low Road to Perfection, which our Father preached to us during the community retreat of 1990 :
“ The foundation of our life, of our joy is the feeling of being enveloped in love, in paternal, maternal, brotherly benevolence, which is prior to everything, unconditional, warm, inexhaustible. I am loved. ”
“ The joy of the moment in which Jesus looked at me. Understanding and hearing this is the secret of our joy. Feeling loved by God, feeling that for Him we are not numbers but people ; and hearing Him calling us. ”
“ The joy of the encounter with Him and with His call does not lead to shutting oneself in but to opening oneself ; it leads to service in the Church. ”
“ That is why, ” our Father said, “ the attestation of saints and the preaching of priests are absolutely necessary in the Church ; and it is because this attestation, this preaching no longer exist that there are no longer vocations, that Christian enthusiasm has died out. In order for souls in the night to have the courage to believe in the Light, there must at least be someone who assures them of the existence of the Light. ”
This was the role of our Father during the long conciliar and post-conciliar period. The light, however, has returned, it is shining once again over the world through the face of Pope Francis and through his words !
“ But please : never any sisters, never any priests with faces like ‘ chilis pickled in vinegar ’ – never ! The joy that comes from Jesus. ”
It comes from Jesus through the ministry of His vicar for he is Jesus among us…
“ THE NEW EVANGELISATION ”
THROUGH THE IMMACULATE HEART OF MARY
Then, the Pope paints his own portrait which is true in every respect to the image of this “ Bishop dressed in White ” whom Lucy, Francisco and Jacinta saw on July 13, 1917 : “ something similar to the image a mirror reflects when a person passes in front of it. ’ Pope John Paul I had already illustrated this portrait in a very fleeting manner :
As we know, “ Jesus’ whole life, his way of dealing with the poor, His actions, His integrity, His simple daily acts of generosity, and finally His complete self-giving, ” are the sine qua non conditions of the eternal salvation of the souls of poor sinners whom, on July 13, 1917, Lucy, Francisco and Jacinta saw with their own eyes falling into Hell :
“ ‘ You have seen Hell where the souls of poor sinners go, ’ Our Lady told them.
“ ‘ To save them, God wishes to establish in the world devotion to My Immaculate Heart.
“ ‘ If what I am going to say to you is done, many souls will be saved and there will be peace. ’ ”
Thus it is peace in this world and eternal salvation in the other that are at stake. It is a question of life or death : there is no middle ground.
The last paragraphs of the apostolic Exhortation Evangelii gaudium are far from presenting what is at stake in all its dramatic urgency.
In that sense, they illustrate literally the“ halting step ” of our Holy Father, Pope Francis, “ passing through a large city half in ruins ” that the Church has become, according to the Secret of Fatima :
“ It is impossible to persevere in a fervent evangelisation unless we are convinced from personal experience that it is not the same thing to have known Jesus as not to have known Him, not the same thing to walk with Him as to walk blindly, not the same thing to hear His word as not to know it, and not the same thing to contemplate Him, to worship Him, to find our peace in Him, as not to. ”
Of course, but just what is the difference ?
“ It is not the same thing to try to build the world with His Gospel as to try to do so by our own lights. We know well that with Jesus, life becomes richer, and that with Him, it is easier to find meaning in everything. This is why we evangelise. ” (no. 266)
Is that all ? What a fall in potential !
Yet, the Holy Father believes in Hell. He warned the people of the Mafia of it, with the same concern as St. Thérèse who wrote, before the account of her prayer to Pranzini’s conversion :
“ As yet it was not the souls of priests that attracted me, but those of great sinners. I burned with a desire to snatch them from the eternal flames… ”
“ Please, ” the Pope said to the people who, today, resemble Pranzini, “ change your lives, convert, cease to do evil ! We are praying for you. Convert, I ask it on my knees ; it is for your own good. This life you are living now will not bring you pleasure, it will not give you joy, it will not bring you happiness. ” In this world ? They claim that it will ! Unfortunately, there is Hell !
“ The power, the money, that you possess now from so many dirty transactions, from so many Mafia crimes, is blood-stained money, it is power soaked in blood, and you cannot take it with you to the next life. Convert, there is still time, so that you do not end up in Hell. That is what awaits you if you continue on this path. You had a father and a mother : think of them. Cry a little and convert.
“ Let us pray together to our Mother Mary that She help us : Hail Mary. ” ( Friday, March 21, in the Church St. Gregory VII in Rome, in his speech to the families of the victims of criminality )
Therefore we need to turn ourselves towards Our Lady of Fatima. “ The new evangelisation ” is either the devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary or it is nothing.
Confessare aims at learning from the Angel of the Cabeço, Our Lady’s precursor, how to prostrate ourselves with our face to the ground and say : “ My God, I believe, I adore, I hope and I love Thee. ” Next year, if God so wills, we will go to St. John the Baptist’s Cathedral in Turin and say this prayer, prostrating ourselves before the Holy Shroud, which will be exposed there.
This does not mean rejecting “ those who do not believe, who do not adore, who do not hope, who do not love Thee ! ” Rather it entails asking forgiveness for them, and offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Divine Victim Who was crucified for us, sinners :
“ Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, I adore You profoundly, and I offer You the most precious Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, present in all the tabernacles of the world, in reparation for the outrages, sacrileges and indifferences by which He Himself is offended. Through the infinite merits of His Most Sacred Heart and of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I ask of You the conversion of poor sinners. ”
It sounds like a prayer for a time where there will no longer be priests to celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of Mass everywhere and every day. It was in 1916. A hundred years later, how can we fail to see that we have reached that stage ?
The Communion in the Sacred Host and in the Blood of the Chalice brought by the Angel also suggests this : “ Eat and drink the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, horribly outraged by ungrateful men. Make reparation for their crimes and console your God. ”
In her very last written work, Sister Lucy explained :
“ The third apparition of the Angel is an incentive to adore God in the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity : ‘ Most Holy Trinity… ’ This prayer was for me the great bond of my union with God ; this bond seizes me, embraces me. This prayer is indissolubly engraved in my heart ; Holy Trinity, the one, true God, in Whom I believe, in Whom I hope, I adore You and I love You ; accept my love and my humble adoration. I have so little to give to You that I ask You to accept, in exchange for my indignity, the infinite merits of the Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary ; in return I ask You for the conversion of poor sinners. ”
This prayer was answered by the mediation of the Blessed Virgin Who, the following year, descended six times in Person from Heaven to the Cova da Iria.
On Sunday, May 13, 1917, after having attended the first parish Mass, the ‘Mass of souls,’ – as people used to say at that time, for it was celebrated for the souls of Purgatory – Lucy, Jacinta and Francisco led theirs flocks to the Cova da Iria, a vast basin that belonged for the most part to the dos Santos. After having lunched and recited their rosary there, “ the children were playing and amusing themselves in total insouciance when they were suddenly surprised to see a flash of light, which they thought must be lightning. It was a fine clear spring day, and the sun was shining, but the children were so small that they did not know how to interpret the look of the sky. Accustomed as they were to seeing flashes of lightning during thunderstorms, their only thought was to urge on the flock in order to return home before they got caught in a storm.
“ When they had gone a few steps down the slope they saw another flash of light, which they took to be a second flash of lightning, and this made them hurry even faster and urge the flock on even more. A few steps further on, about half way down the slope, they stopped in surprise when they saw a lovely Lady of light on a small holm oak. ” She was “ entirely robed in white, more brilliant than the sun, and radiated a light more clear and intense than a crystal glass filled with sparkling water, when the rays of the burning sun shine through it. ”
The three seers “ were not afraid, because the supernatural does not arouse fear. ” Lucy explained. “ It only inspires a pleasant surprise, an attraction ; one is fascinated, enthralled.
“ The Lady opened Her lips as if about to speak and gently said to the children : ‘ Do not be afraid. I will do you no harm. ’
“ According to a custom of our country, when we meet a person whom we do not know and who speaks to us, we ask him where he comes from and what he wants.
“ Thus, I asked : ‘ Where are you from ? ’
“ ‘ I am from Heaven, ’ She answered.
“ Accustomed as I was to hearing that Heaven was up there, very high, above the firmament, the stars, the moon and the sun, and seeing a very beautiful Lady Who told me that She ‘ was from Heaven, ’ I felt such an intimate joy that I was filled with confidence and love. It seemed to me that already nothing ever could separate me from that Lady. I would have liked to attach myself so strongly to Her that, in Her flight, She might carry me along with Her, as on Her wings ! This, however, were not the Lord’s plans.
“ I continued : ‘ What does Your Grace want of me ? ’
“ ‘ I have come to ask you to come here on the 13th day of the month for six months in succession, at this same hour. Later on, I will tell you Who I am and what I want. Afterwards, I will return here yet a seventh time. ’
“ The thought that I was talking to someone who had come from Heaven gave me courage and I asked whether I, too, would have the good fortune to go to Heaven, whereupon the Lady replied : ‘ Yes, you will. ’
“ The inner joy I felt is indescribable.
“ Love, however, is not only for our own happiness, it needs to be shared with our neighbour. That is why I then asked :
“ ‘ And Jacinta ? ’
“ ‘ She will go too ’,
“ ‘ And Francisco ? ’
“ ‘ He will go too, but he must say many Rosaries. ’
“ Then I remembered to ask about two girls who had died recently. They were friends of mine and used to come to our home to learn weaving with my eldest sister.
“ ‘ Is Maria das Neves already in Heaven ? ’
“ ‘ Yes, she is there. ’
“ I think she must have been about sixteen years old.
“ ‘ And Amelia ? ’
“ ‘ She will be in Purgatory until the end of the world. ’
“ I think she must have been between eighteen and twenty years old.
“ Then, Our Lady asked the three children this question :‘ Are you willing to offer yourselves to God to endure all the sufferings He wills to send you, in an act of reparation for the sins by which God is offended, and in supplication for the conversion of sinners ? ’
“ To which I replied in the name of all three :‘ Yes, we are willing ! ’
“ ‘ Then you will have much to suffer, but the grace of God will be your consolation. ’ ”
Until then, the Apparition had kept Her hands folded, “ like someone who is praying. ”
Yet, “ as She pronounced these last words, Our Lady opened Her hands for the first time, in a gesture of maternal protection ; as though it were a reflection emanating from Her hands, She communicated to us a light so intense that its rays penetrated our hearts and even the innermost depths of our souls, making us see ourselves in God, Who was that light, more clearly than we see ourselves in the best of mirrors.
“ This grace introduced us into the immense ocean of God’s light and impelled us to adore Him in the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity and to love Him in the Divine Eucharist, by saying in the silence of our hearts : ‘ O Most Holy Trinity, I adore You ! My God, my God, I love You in the most Blessed Sacrament. ’
“ For me it was the revelation of the mystery of the God present within me – where I must adore Him, love Him, and serve Him with faith, hope and love –, and of me always present in God.
“ After a few moments, Our Lady spoke again :
“ ‘ Recite the Rosary every day in order to obtain peace for the world and the end of the war. ’
“ ‘ Can you tell me, ’asked Lucy, ‘ if the war is still going to last a long time, or if it will end soon ? ’
“ ‘ I cannot tell you that yet, until I have not also told you also what I want. ’
“ Then She began to rise serenely in the direction of the east, until She disappeared in the immensity of Heaven. The light that surrounded Her seemed to open up a path before Her in the firmament, and for this reason we sometimes said that we saw Heaven opening. ”
On June 13, 1917, during Her second apparition, after having announced that She would soon take Francisco and Jacinta to Heaven, Our Lady said to Lucy :
“ You, Lucy, will stay here some time longer. Jesus wishes to make use of you to make Me known and loved. He wishes to establish in the world devotion to My Immaculate Heart. To those who embrace this devotion I promise salvation ; these souls will be favoured by God, like flowers placed by Me to adorn His throne. ’
“ ‘ Am I to remain here all alone ? ’ Lucy moaned.
“ ‘ No, My daughter. Do you suffer greatly ? Do not be discouraged, I will never abandon you ! My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the way that will lead you to God. ’ ”
This is the ‘ way ’ that we urgently need to follow in order to prepare our pilgrimage to Fatima in 2017.
“ I felt comforted by this promise ; It filled me with confidence and made me sure that the Lady would never forsake me, that She would lead me Herself and guide my steps on the roads through life that God has prepared for me. Thus, I abandoned myself in the fatherly arms of our God, and to His motherly care.
“ Then, opening Her arms in a gesture of motherly protection, the heavenly Messenger enveloped us in the reflection of the light of the immense Being of God.
“ In the supernatural sphere, this grace marked us forever.
“ Oh, Lord ! Is Our Lady not the Refuge of sinners, the Mother of mercy, the Help of Christians ? You had Her descend to us in order to introduce us into the ocean of Your love, Your power, Your immense Being, where this ardent flame will make live out forever this mystery of the love of the Three for us. ”
As for the restoration of the Church, we must ask the Immaculate Heart of Mary for it, while remembering the recommendation that Jacinta made to Lucy before leaving for Lisbon to die :
“ It will not be long now before I go to Heaven. You will remain here to make it known that God wishes to establish in the world devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. When the time comes to say this, do not go and hide. Tell everyone that God grants us His graces through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, that it is from Her that people are to ask for them ; that the Heart of Jesus wants the Immaculate Heart of Mary to be venerated together with His ; that people are to ask the Immaculate Heart of Mary for peace, since God has entrusted it to Her. ”
Otherwise, everything is but ruin, as can be seen in the third part of the ‘ Secret ’ that was revealed to the children during the third apparition, on July 13, 1917. It ends with the vision of “ a large Cross of rough-hewn trunksraised on a steep mountain. ”
On the contrary, the more than thirty-metre high monumental cross, erected in Brescia to celebrate John Paul II’s visit to this city in September 1998, was formed of a long three-part beam , to which the artist had given a very curved form, and hung a ten-metre high statue of Christ weighing six hundred kilos. It suddenly broke and its highest part fell on a group, killing outright a young twenty-year old man. This happened just three days before the canonisation : it is a ‘ sign ! ’
“ At the left of Our Lady and a little higher up we saw an Angel with a flaming sword in his left hand ; it flashed and gave out flames that looked as though they would set the world on fire ; but they were extinguished on contact with the brilliant light that Our Lady radiated against them with Her right hand ; pointing to the earth with his right hand, the Angel cried out in a loud voice :
‘ Penance, Penance, Penance ! ’
“ And we saw, in an immense light that is God, ‘ something similar to the image a mirror reflects when a person passes in front of it ’ a Bishop dressed in White – ‘ we had the impression that it was the Holy Father. ’
“ Several other Bishops, Priests, men and women Religious were climbing a steep mountain, at the top of which there was a large Cross of rough-hewn trunks as of a cork-tree with its bark before reaching there, the Holy Father passed through a large city half in ruins and half trembling, with halting step, afflicted with pain and sorrow, he prayed for the souls of the corpses he met on his way ; having reached the summit of the mountain, falling on his knees at the foot of the large Cross he was killed by a group of soldiers who fired bullets and arrows at him, and in the same way there died one after another the Bishops, Priests, men and women Religious, and various lay people, men and women of different ranks and positions.
“ Beneath the two arms of the Cross there were two Angels, each with a crystal aspersorium in his hand, in which they gathered up the blood of the martyrs and with it sprinkled the souls that were making their way to God. ”
“ More martyrs exist today than during the early times of the Church, ” as the Holy Father Pope Francis is unceasingly repeating. We will go to ask for the grace, of which they are the source for the souls that are making their way to God, by going on pilgrimage to Turin in order to adore the Holy Shroud that will be exposed there starting in April of next year.
Perhaps we will be a thousand ?
Then, let us make a rendezvous for Fatima, in 2017, if God so wills.
From today on, however, let us pray, pray much for the Holy Father, according to Jacinta’s pressing recommendation, and as our Holy Father Pope Francis unceasingly implores us to do so.
Brother Bruno of Jesus-Mary.
“ THE TRUE POPE FRANCIS IS NOT THE ONE OF THE NEW PAPISTS ”
By Jean-Marie Guénois
“ True anniversaries are not always those we imagine. This is the case for the first anniversary of Pope Francis’ election on March 13, 2013. It gave rise to many books and rather repetitive commentaries, which were written by ‘ new-style papists. ’ These commentators had fought for years against the Pope, the papacy and the Vatican. Over the last few months, however, they have become Pope Francis’ sycophants.
“ They assure us that, this time, the Church is no longer governed by a reactionary Pope but by a disciple of the Gospel, who is truly concerned with social questions and, in principle, on the left, thus a man with whom one can associate. For them, the Church even seems to begin with this Pope. It is as though she has been saved, because she is at last changing course, turning her heavy bow in the direction of the prevailing wind. It was high time.
In a way, Francis has put on a front. All through this first year, he showed himself as a man of openness. He has launched vast reforms such as those of the Curia and the Holy See’s finances. He has challenged the insoluble equation of the remarried divorcees.
“ He also put a sudden end to Benedict XVI’s style, breaking with all the signs of imperial papacy : palace, ceremonial cars, mitres adorned with diamonds, golden accessories, kissing of the hand and other genuflexions. His predecessor did not maintain these customs by inclination for luxury but out of concern for the transmission of a tradition and, paradoxically, by self-effacement before the prestige of a function.
“ Today’s papists, however, do not want to see that Francis’ simplified appearances as such remain superficial. Even if he has a confirmed awareness of social issues that can be qualified as “ leftist ” on certain of his economic analyses, the Argentine Pope remains a strongly authoritative man. One must go back a very long way in time to find such authoritarianism, which is uncommon in his governance. On fundamental issues, his temperament is coupled with an extremely radical Christian and Catholic spirituality. In short, even if Pope Francis appears to be ‘ revolutionary, ’ he is a powerful conservative and above all a high-powered missionary whom nothing can stop.
“ These new supporters who, at the time, had judged retrograde and bombarded with criticism John Paul II’s enterprise – a ‘ new evangelisation ’ of Europe, which was launched during a pilgrimage to Compostela – do not seem to understand either that the one and only programme of this austere Jesuit is not the social revolution of a sanitized horizontal Christianity. He has but one idea in mind, namely to succeed in implementing a truly ‘ new-new evangelisation, ’ not only in Europe but in the whole world !
“ It suffices to reread his policy document ‘ The Joy of the Gospel ’ to become aware of it. His ‘ revolution of tenderness ’ in the Church only aims at attracting to her bosom those who do not feel welcome there, and to push out of doors those who feel so snug within that they forget to bear witness to their faith in Christ outside the air-conditioned greenhouse – the Church.
“ In this perspective, year II of the pontificate really began with this long Holy Week, which will end next Sunday with the canonisations of Popes John XXIII and John Paul II. In the space of eight days Francis has not changed. Nevertheless, he displays maturity in this new ‘ job ’ as Pope. The pontificate has a sort of momentum that is imperceptible on the surface ; rather it produces its effect deep underneath, even if it means provoking ‘ right-thinking people on the left and all the more so on the right’ Such was the case these last few days with, on the one hand, his speeches against abortion, gay marriages and the scandal of the gender theories ‘ experimented on children. ’ Then, on the other hand there were his fiery homilies, on Holy Thursday aimed at awakening radiant joy in Catholic priests, and on Palm Sunday when he assumed a stern expression to put tough questions to everyone, to the conscience of believers – ‘ Who am I before Jesus ? Pilate ? Judas ? Has my life fallen asleep ? Where is my heart ? ’ This is only a prelude to the future radicalism of his trip to the Holy Land, at the end of May. ”